Drummer Boy

Drummer Boy

Sixteen-year-old Myles* was clearly in a bad mood when he arrived for Drum Circle in the music room at the Noel Education Center. Myles had been going through a major depression and hadn’t been engaging in much, but Drum Circle was a weekly therapy he enjoyed.

Prior to his arrival at Cunningham, Myles had endured abuse and neglect from family members for many years and had little exposure to the outside world. In addition to his low self-esteem, he lacks social skills and confidence. Drumming helps.

“We were in a circle and took turns repeating the rhythms we heard,” Ashley, our Music Therapist, said. “Then, everyone played together. I could see Myles was enjoying just being in the space with everybody and by the end of the session, his entire demeanor had changed.”

Myles was smiling. He was happy and in control of his emotions. Drum Circle gives Myles an opportunityto have fun. It also allows him to be confident in what he’s doing, because there’s no wrong way to play the drum.

Our Special Therapies team uses “Beat the Odds,” a curriculum specific for youth who have experienced trauma and have some behavioral challenges. Drumming activates different parts of the brain, so our youth are able to be in the moment and not focused on their stress, grief or pain. Having a repetitive rhythm through drumming promotes relaxation and brings calming on a centered activity.

“Aspects of drumming can help piece together functions like decision making and social behavior that have been impacted by trauma,” Ashley said, “but we’re also working on engagement, expression and the community aspect of it. When we are drumming, there are no big expectations, so it reduces the self-judgment we have. And making sure there’s a level of respect in the drum circle helps build that community.”

This drummer boy continues to heal, learn and grow because of gifts from many in our Cunningham community who come together to give hope to those who need it most.

*Our story is real, but name has been changed to protect the privacy of our youth.